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Can all of the COVID-19 virus in the world fit in a soda can?

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The mathematician who calculated whether or not all of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may slot in a single soda can broke it down step-by-step.

Recently, some individuals have tried to place into perspective how a lot SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, there’s on the earth. And now persons are claiming all of it at the moment out on the earth may slot in a single soda can.

That has some questioning two issues: is it true and simply how a lot is that actually?


Can all the COVID-19 virus on the earth slot in a single soda can?


Sure. The mathematician who calculated this even broke down step-by-step how he did the mathematics.


This declare that all the SARS-CoV-2 on the earth is about 160 mL is being made on viral posts throughout totally different social media platforms and in varied headlines. Posts just like the one beneath add a visible component to it, displaying it may all slot in a single soda can with room to spare.

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The declare comes from a February 10 article written by Christian Yates, a mathematician primarily based in the UK. He’s a senior lecturer of mathematical biology there and reveals up within the college’s listing.

He estimates that there’s about 120 mL of SARS-CoV-2 on the earth proper now which might really fill an area of 160 mL as a result of spheres just like the virus go away plenty of open area when packed collectively. Yates has to do a number of estimation on the way in which to that whole as a result of there’s loads that performs into it that scientists don’t have a precise quantity for, but.

To start with, he wanted to get a complete variety of individuals at the moment sick with the virus. That isn’t tracked, so the subsequent neatest thing is to estimate primarily based on every day, newly confirmed circumstances. Our World in Information reveals a bit lower than half-a-million confirmed circumstances per day however estimates within the hundreds of thousands from the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis (IHME) due to lapses in testing and asymptomatic circumstances. Yates rounded up IHME’s quantity in his calculation and estimated viral load per individual there.

He then took a research on viral load ranges for COVID-19, saved in thoughts that individuals at totally different levels of the illness have totally different ranges of viral load and went with a quantity within the center. When he mixed that with estimates of how many individuals ought to have the virus at anybody time whenever you hold every day new circumstances fixed, he estimated there are 200 quadrillion (that’s a two adopted by 17 zeros) on the earth at anybody time.

The subsequent step was to calculate the scale of every of those many virus particles. Yates mentioned COVID-19 virus particles are 80 to 120 nanometers in diameter, which is backed up by a Nationwide Library of Medication research that measured the scale of the particles in microns. To place that measurement in perspective, a single strand of human hair is about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers huge and a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

Yates works out the amount of those particles from the diameter utilizing a standard formulation and finds that these many virus particles equal about 120 mL. However if you happen to had been to pack all of them collectively, they might take up a bigger area as a result of spheres go away a number of open area. He mentioned if you happen to use essentially the most environment friendly packing methodology attainable, they might take up an area of 160 mL.

A typical can of Coca-Cola is about 12 fluid ounces, which is slightly below 355 mL. Which means all the COVID-19 virus particles on the earth take up lower than half of a can of soda.

And whereas his calculations are primarily based on estimates, he usually went excessive as an alternative of low. So it’s extra probably the true whole quantity of virus particles on the earth is a bit smaller than the quantity he ended up on. So even when his estimates are off, all the virus particles would nonetheless slot in a soda can and certain fill it up even much less. 

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